Neighbors

“Bad neighbors are pests, good ones a blessing. A good neighbor is a boon to him who has one. If your neighbor is honest, your ox is safe.” Hesiod, Works and Days

We would do well to think in terms of neighbors: who they are, and how to be one.

There are many things that Hesiod might have said in honor of a good neighbor, or in condemnation of a bad one. In ancient Greece an ox was the central instrument for working the land–especially in households that did not have slaves. In a word, the ox was indispensable to the life of the household.

And with good neighbors, your ox is safe. Safe not only from disappearing, your ox is practically assured of good health and long life. Help and support, yeah even perhaps a replacement, are always close at hand–just as a neighbor himself is always close at hand, as the very word ‘neighbor’ means. Hesiod thought of neighbors as a pivotal part of life. An unsafe ox means an unstable household, and life.

It’s hard these days to know how to think in terms of neighbors. Our living conditions tend to be transient and ill-arranged for real contact with those where we live. Similarly those with whom we work often do not live near us. In both cases our limited contact makes it difficult to live as true neighbors.

Being neighbors and being friends are not the same thing. But they have much in common, especially in what they demand of us. Being a neighbor requires acting like a friend, even toward one who is not a friend.

Good neighbors are a blessing, and it is incumbent on us to seek and cultivate neighborly relationships. Indeed it is within our reach to be this unique blessing, rather than the opposite, to those among whom live.

Photo credit: Unknown; I couldn’t resist it.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:

A New Attitude toward Tradition

A New Attitude toward Tradition

‘To participate in a tradition,’ ‘to be in a tradition’ means: to accept something handed down as a thing handed down. …anyone who carelessly rejects the external traditions or treats them with irony is doing something dangerous.” Josef Pieper, The Concept of...

read more
Thankful for When Children Were Young

Thankful for When Children Were Young

“..and perhaps it will be pleasing to have remembered these things one day.” Virgil, The Aeneid I have to admit it: it's been hard for me recently as I think back on when my children were younger. A few days ago my wife and I, and our eight year old son—who is seven...

read more
The Longing for Things Higher

The Longing for Things Higher

“After the sufferings of many years of violence and oppression, the human soul longs for things higher, warmer, and purer than those offered by today’s mass living habits introduced by the revolting invasion of publicity, by TV stupor, and by intolerable music.”...

read more

Pin It on Pinterest